More than 80,000 people died of complications from the flu last season, including at least 180 children, and the virus resulted in a record-breaking 900,000 hospitalizations.
Those astounding figures were released recently by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., who deemed it "critical" to focus national attention on the importance of the vaccine and the protection it provides.
Spreading that message requires that hospitals have better access to patients in their everyday lives.
While most of us in healthcare know the benefits of preventive medicine, such as an annual physical or flu vaccination, plenty of patients remain skeptical or fail to prioritize this type of care.
Rethinking Patient Access
Building awareness of these benefits cannot take place solely in the office setting.
The Centers for Disease Control recommended this year that everyone ages 6 months and up (except those medically unable) get immunized against the flu by the end of October (though later is better than not at all).
As we head into November – and flu season starts to pick up in earnest – how are you reaching patients outside your hospital or practice to teach them the benefits of flu vaccination? If you’ve only been communicating with patients during office appointments, just think of how many patients you aren’t reaching.
The conversation must begin and be reinforced outside the hospital or practice walls, yet most healthcare providers don’t have that kind of access to patients in their daily lives. Patient engagement solutions give you the access to guide and support your population whenever necessary, providing the right care at the right time – in the right place.
Innovative hospitals are defining that place as anywhere and everywhere that patients have mobile access.
Improving Communication About Preventive Care Issues
Once you have a system for true patient access in place, think about your message. Communication to improve preventive care will take:
Reliable informationA DeloitteHealth study finds that patients look to their doctors for reliable health care content, but they will look elsewhere if the information they need is not readily available. Give patients the information they need to drive better health decisions before they search Dr. Google.
RepetitionThe Rule of Seven, often used in sales, states that people need to hear your message seven times before they will act. That theory applies well to changing health behaviors, too. Patients need repetition to drive behavior change.
RelationshipsThe same DeloitteHealth study finds that patients want improved partnerships with providers. Patient engagement technology gives you the power to drive conversation when patients are outside your physical point of care.
Give your patients the facts about preventive care. Then tell them again and again, and keep the conversation going over a long period of time. Ongoing patient-provider communication will help your population stay safe, healthy and – just as important – feeling connected and well-cared for.